Prompt: Nick/Lacroix. Lacroix never bothered to learn how to drive a car. Why bother when you can fly or whammy mortals into chauffeuring you around for free? So, for some reason, Lacroix now needs to learn how to drive a car, and learn soon. As a result, Nick has to teach Lacroix to drive.
Length: ~6,350 words
Warnings: Highlight to view: * UF: consider yourself warned (m/m, non-explicit) *
Timeline: Between season 2 and 3
Boys and their Toys
"Bonsoir, mes amis. The Nightcrawler is on the air, accompanying you through the night. And the very fact that you've tuned in tells me that you do crave companionship, do you not, gentle listeners? Solitude can be endured only for a certain term before you lose yourself in memories of nights long past when skin touched skin and lips were engaged in far more interesting endeavours than mere arguing..."
A honking car returned Nick's attention to the present. He took a deep breath to ban unbidden memories from his mind and pressed the gas pedal to cross the intersection.
* * *
Lucien Lacroix stood on the edge of the roof and watched the Cadillac moving forward after missing out on two green lights. His lips curved into the shadow of a smile as he recalled how absorbed Nicholas had been paying attention to his broadcast. Had he been talking to him face to face, Nicholas would have started an argument, rejecting everything that Lacroix had to offer.
However, when Nicholas was driving around in his precious automobile, the boy did actually listen to his words flowing from the stereo. This particular car had been in Nicholas' possession for 32 years now, which was quite a long relationship, considering that the object on the receiving end of Nicholas' caressing touch was a piece of metal. Of course, Lacroix refused to recognize a car as rival for Nicholas' affection. Instead he intended to turn it into an ally. Pre-recording his monologues on occasion, Lacroix enjoyed watching their immediate effect on his selected audience.
* * *
"Detective Knight?" the desk sergeant called across the bullpen. "Traffic patrol is requesting your presence downstairs."
Nick walked over to the reception desk. "Traffic patrol? Did I get a speeding ticket?"
"No, there seems to be a problem with a towed car."
"Why do they want to see me? Is this related to a case?"
"The owner of the towed car particularly asked for you."
"Okay, I'll check it out," Nick shrugged.
* * *
The moment he entered the traffic department, Nick sensed the immediate presence of his master. "What's going on here?" he demanded as he took in the scene. A menacing-looking Lacroix sat in the deserted waiting area, while a nervous young officer tried to appear busy behind his desk.
The officer's features flooded with relief when he saw Nick. "Detective Knight? Thank you for coming down. Do you know this man?"
Nick turned to Lacroix with an inquiring look. "Yes," he replied cautiously when Lacroix made no move. "What's the problem?"
"Mr. Lacroix's car has been towed from a no-overnight-parking zone at the harbour. Instead of paying the fee and retrieving his car, he insisted on calling you."
Lacroix's car? Nick didn't know that Lacroix had a car. "Excuse us a moment," he told the officer and motioned Lacroix to follow him.
Once they were out of earshot, Nick turned in an annoyed tone at his master. "You want me to pay for your ticket, or what?"
"I must say, I hadn't expected your highly praised colleagues to engage in car theft, Nicholas," Lacroix returned in the same tone. "Imagine my surprise when I came here to report the car stolen and learned instead that I had to pay a fee in order to get it back."
"It wasn't stolen, it was towed because you left it in a restricted parking zone. Why didn't you park somewhere else?"
"Actually, I didn't park it at all. The car was imported directly from Europe. It arrived by ship last night and was loaded onto the docks, where I was to pick it up."
"And why haven't you picked it up?"
Lacroix frowned slightly before replying, "There appears to be a malfunction. The car is not running as it should."
"Have you called a mechanic?"
Lacroix's frown deepened. "Mortal night personnel are characterized by a miserable lack of expertise. The mechanic on call was incapable of discovering and repairing the flaw." He now rested on the bottom of Lake Ontario, but Lacroix wisely kept this knowledge to himself. By the time he returned from disposing of the body, the car had been gone.
"Okay, let's take a look," Nick sighed. "Do you have the necessary documents to prove the car is yours?"
"Of course," Lacroix said smoothly and followed Nick back to the desk sergeant.
"Well, let's take care of it, shall we?" Nick smiled benevolently at the officer. "How much is the fine?"
The towing, plus the fine comes to $200," the officer stuttered and passed a sheet over to Nick.
Lacroix pulled out his wallet and paid the amount in cash while Nick cast him a bemused look.
"I need to see your registration and your license," the officer requested.
Lacroix pulled a document from his wallet and handed it over.
"And your license?" the officer demanded.
Nick looked with growing alarm at Lacroix as the silence stretched. Ice blue eyes fixed on the officer and Lacroix stated in a low voice, "You don't need to see my license."
"I don't need to see your license," the young man repeated.
"Will that be all?" Lacroix inquired.
"Here's the key. You just need to sign here. Your car is in the parking garage, level 2, row 18."
Lacroix grabbed the key, left his signature and headed out of the office.
"You don't have a license?" Nick asked, catching up to him.
"I've already informed Larry Merlin. He will be taking care of that…trifle."
They entered the parking garage where Lacroix headed towards the only car in the area.
"That?" Nick asked in astonishment, while his eyes roamed appreciatively over the shining black Mercedes roadster.
"You approve?" Lacroix raised an eyebrow.
Nick opened the passenger door and sat down, brushing his finger-tips in awe over the nappa leather upholstery and the wood-trimmed consoles. "It's magnificent," he breathed.
Lacroix regarded his son's captivation with his car with an amused smile before taking the driver's seat. "I acquired it directly from the headquarters in Stuttgart." He started the motor and pressed the gas pedal.
The car jerked forward and died. A second attempt yielded the same result.
"What are you doing?!" Nick exclaimed.
"I told you the car is malfunctioning," Lacroix reminded him.
"The car isn't the problem, Lacroix. You are the problem! Get out!" In a flash Nick was at the driver's side and pulled the door open.
Lacroix complied and stalked around the car to take the passenger seat.
"Have you any idea how to drive at all?" Nick asked as he started the motor.
"I was told to press either the gas or the brake. Have I been misinformed?" Lacroix frowned.
"This car has a manual transmission. You have to use the clutch or you'll destroy the mechanism." Nick pulled the car in gear and steered smoothly out of the garage. "You have driven before, haven't you?"
"Of course, Nicholas. I owned my own chariot in my time."
"I meant a car," Nick clarified, slightly unnerved. When Lacroix remained silent, he glanced at him in disbelief, the superior look on Lacroix's face daring him to point out any differences between driving vehicles from ancient Rome and modern automobiles. "What on earth did you buy this for? You never had any use for cars!"
Mannheim, Germany, July 3, 1886
Lacroix jerked awake as a loud tottering noise resonated through the narrow cobblestone streets. Turning to wrap a protective arm around his lover, he discovered that he was alone in bed. He found Nicholas at the window, carefully peeking through a gap in the heavy drapes without exposing himself to the sunlight.
"What is this incessant noise, Nicholas?" Lacroix hissed.
"It's Carl. He made it. His gasoline motor is actually working."
"And what is he trying to accomplish with that?" Lacroix found it hard to match Nicholas' enthusiasm.
"He's been working for years to realize his dream of a horseless carriage."
"A horseless carriage? Whatever for?"
"As a means of transportation available for everyone."
"There are enough horses on this planet to equip carriages for everyone. The world does not need horseless carriages."
"But there are many people who cannot afford horses," Nicholas objected.
"And why should they?" Lacroix shrugged, raising an eyebrow.
"Where's your sense of progress, Lacroix?"
"That kind of progress bears hardly any benefit for us. What is the invention of a horseless carriage to us? We do not require ground transportation at all. We have the ability to fly wherever we please."
"Still, I'm curious about this vehicle. I'll ask Carl tonight if I can try it out. Are you accompanying me?"
"I'm not interested in these mortal toys, Nicholas. I have no use for them."
"That is none of your concern," Lacroix replied, earning an annoyed glare from Nick. "You keep telling me not to interfere in your business, kindly do me the courtesy of not interfering in mine."
Lacroix noted a hurt expression flickering briefly across Nicholas' features before he turned his attention back to the road.
Heading down Yonge Street, Nick took the next ramp to Gardiner Expressway. Once on the Expressway, Nick pressed the gas pedal, switching gears smoothly and sped westward.
Lacroix watched him, his hair ruffled by the wind, and obviously taking great delight in driving this car. Nick headed as far as Humber Bay where he took the exit and crossed to the opposite ramp, returned to the Expressway and sped back downtown. He exited on Cherry Street and headed towards Gateway Lane where he stopped the car in front of his garage.
Lacroix turned a raised eyebrow at him.
"It's a great car," Nick grinned.
"I'm immensely pleased that you found no fault in my car, Nicholas," Lacroix remarked dryly. He got out and walked to the driver's side, holding out his hand for the keys.
Instead of handing them over, Nick slipped the keys into his own pocket. "I can't allow you to drive without the proper skills."
"Don't be ridiculous, Nicholas." Lacroix snipped his fingers to emphasize his demand. "I do not take orders from you."
"You don't have a choice, Lacroix. As an officer of the law, it's my duty to make sure you aren't a danger to others. I need to get back to work now, but I'll be off at 5:00. Meet me here and I'll teach you. We'll have an hour until sunrise."
"You're going to teach me?" Lacroix repeated. There was something uniquely disconcerting about this reversed arrangement.
"I don't suppose you want to go to a driving school?" Nick challenged.
Lacroix glared at him. He would not lower himself to taking lessons from mortals. "Very well," he agreed. "Five. Don't keep me waiting." He rose to the air, leaving a stunned Nick behind.
It was rare that Lacroix complied so easily. But then, he didn't really have a choice if he wanted to drive the car himself. Nick still wondered why he had bought it in the first place when he had no idea how to drive. Until now Lacroix had been content with chauffeurs if he required a car.
Nick pulled out his cell phone and left a message on Larry Merlin's answering machine. "Larry? It's Nick. I heard you're preparing a driver's license for Lacroix? Don't send it to him. Send it to me. I'll forward it when he's ready."
Satisfied, Nick closed his cell phone and flew back to the precinct.
* * *
By the time his shift was over, Nick had second thoughts about his appointment. Meeting Lacroix near sunrise held the danger of getting stuck with him during the day, and Nick was eager to avoid that for reasons he preferred not to dwell on. However, he expected that Lacroix would learn to drive easily with little instruction.
When he reached the loft, Lacroix already awaited him, sitting in the driver's seat of his Mercedes like he would in his favourite chair by the fireplace.
"Okay, here we go," Nick said as he took the passenger seat. "Have you checked if the seat and the mirrors are properly adjusted?"
"The seat is quite comfortable, thank you," Lacroix replied.
"This isn't about comfort, this is about safe driving, Lacroix," Nick admonished him. "Press down the clutch all the way. Can you do that? Good, that means the seat is properly adjusted."
"I told you it was comfortable."
"Now, check the rear-view mirrors. Do you have a clear view of the road behind you?"
"There is no road, Nicholas. There's only your garage." Yet, Lacroix reached out to adjust the front mirror.
Nick took a calming breath. "There's a control switch in the door for adjusting the side mirrors. Adjust the mirror on your side so that you have a view on the lane beside you then do the same with the mirror on this side."
Lacroix made the necessary adjustments before turning an expectant glance at Nick.
"Put your hand on the gearstick, press the clutch and hold it down."
"Should I not start the motor first?" Lacroix inquired.
"No, we're doing this in theory first." Nick placed his hand over Lacroix's, which caused Lacroix to eye him curiously.
Slightly startled by the intimate contact himself, Nick held Lacroix's gaze a moment before focusing on the task at hand. "This is neutral. When you pull the stick towards you and upwards, you'll get into first gear. Straight down from there is second gear. Return it to the middle position and press it upwards to the third gear. The fourth gear is straight down. For the fifth, push to the right and up." Nick led Lacroix's hand towards the respective positions. Then he withdrew his hand, indicating that Lacroix should repeat his instructions.
"Hmm..." Lacroix purred and eyed the stick. He gave it a caressing stroke before closing his hand around it, an implication that wasn't lost on Nick, much to his alarm.
"First gear," Nick demanded, fighting to keep the hoarseness from his voice. Seeing that Lacroix followed his instructions, he continued, "Second, third, fourth, fifth."
"Okay, I think you know your way around the gears now," Nick announced after Lacroix had completed the moves several times. "There's one more. When you need to go in reverse, you press the gear stick in and pull it to the right and down." Nick hesitated briefly before closing his hand again over Lacroix's. He performed the gear change and held his hand a moment longer in position than necessity required.
When he noticed Lacroix's gaze resting on him, Nick quickly pulled his hand away as if it had been scorched by fire. "You always have to step on the clutch before you shift gears."
"How do I know which gear to use?" Lacroix asked, looking genuinely interested.
"You keep an eye on the tachometer. Try to keep it between three and four. If it's too low, switch into the next lower gear, if it's too high, switch into the next higher gear. Later you'll know by sound when a gear shift is required." Nick pulled the keys from his pocket and held them out. "I assume you're familiar with traffic signs and rules?"
"Rules?" Lacroix's question indicated clearly that he had no intention of obeying any rules inflicted on him by mortal law.
Nick groaned. "We're not going on any road before you're familiar with basic traffic rules." This whole endeavour seemed to be more time-consuming than he had intended. Seeing Lacroix's frown, he handed him the keys. "Go into neutral and start the engine. We'll stay on the warehouse premises."
Lacroix eagerly started the engine.
"You always start in first gear. Press the clutch, put the car in first gear, disengage the handbrake, and apply a little pressure on the gas while you release the clutch slowly."
After the engine revved loudly, the car jerked forward and died.
"I said slowly!" Nick hissed. He released his grip on the door handle and fastened his seat belt. "You have to feel for it. Release it very slowly and try to find where it starts to catch."
"How quaint," Lacroix remarked and started the engine anew.
The car jerked forward and died.
"You forgot to go into neutral first," Nick scolded. "You either have to put the car in neutral or press the clutch in when you start the car."
After a disapproving glare in response to Nick's rebuke, Lacroix performed the necessary steps and started the engine. He released the clutch slowly. The car moved forward and began to sputter.
"More gas!" Nick called out, but the car had already died. "Why did you even get a manual?" he exclaimed.
"I thought the Germans knew what they were doing. Wasn't it your friend Carl who patented his first Motorwagen?"
"Oh, they know what they're doing," Nick assured him. "Unlike you."
"Trust me, I know exactly what I'm doing, Nicholas. Tell me, are you still holding shares of this particular company?"
"A clever investment. Although I never understood what prompted your trust in Herr Benz' abilities."
"It wasn't Carl who convinced me of the future of his invention," Nick smiled.
Mannheim, Germany, June 30, 1886
Nicholas turned on the sidewalk as a female voice called his name. He studied the woman in her mid-thirties a moment before recognition hit. "Fräulein Ringer?"
"It's Benz now. Frau Carl Benz," she informed him, holding out a hand. "And you used to call me Bertha. You've hardly changed since you gave me and my sisters piano lessons in my father's home."
"Neither have you," Nicholas returned and bowed gracefully over her hand.
Bertha laughed. "That's not true and you know it, but I appreciate the flattery. I've had four children and it has been a difficult 15 years."
"Forgive my curiosity, but what happened to the alliance your father had planned for you?"
"I rejected him, much to my father's displeasure. I could have had a secure future and access to the aristocratic society, but I would not be tied to a husband whom I neither loved nor respected. Then I met Carl. He had this vision of changing the future. He caught my heart immediately. You must meet him. Are you free to spend the evening with us?"
"I'd be delighted," Nicholas replied, discarding his plans to visit the theatre.
"Where have you been all these years?" Bertha inquired while she took his offered arm.
"Travelling for the most part," Nicholas stated vaguely.
"Are you planning to settle down here?"
"No, I'm just passing through. I'm merely awaiting the arrival of my travel companion."
Lacroix had telegraphed two days ago that he was delayed at the Bavarian court where he was providing counsel to the new Prince regent. The sudden death of King Ludwig II two weeks ago had been a blow on Nicholas' mood and Lacroix had sent him ahead to the thriving Rhine-Neckar area for distraction with the promise to join him as soon as his business was completed.
"I'm glad I ran into you," Bertha beamed as they arrived at the entrance to a courtyard. A signpost marked the adjoining building as the Benz & Cie. Rheinische Gasmotoren Fabrik.
Nicholas noticed that the courtyard was unusually deserted for a factory of this size.
"I'm sure Carl will be at his workstation. He's spending his days on the production of gasoline motors and his nights on his special project. I practically have to coax him to eat and rest."
"What special project?"
"He can tell you all about it while I go and prepare some tea." Letting go off Nicholas' arm, Bertha approached a man in a work overall. "Carl, I ran into an old acquaintance of mine. Nicholas used to give me piano lessons back in Pforzheim."
Nicholas studied the slender man who wiped his hand on a towel before extending it in greeting.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Your wife tells me you're working on a special project?"
"It's a Motorwagen," Carl stated and led Nicholas to a bicycle-like construction on three wheels. After his wife had squeezed his arm encouragingly, he launched into a detailed description of the technical parts of the vehicle. Nicholas was impressed by his expertise, he noticed, however, that Carl invested more detail into pointing out the flaws he had yet to overcome than the advantages his invention would provide once it was finished."
"Are you working on it all alone?" Nicholas queried. "What about your employees?"
"I had to dismiss them after I was unable to pay their wages," Carl explained in a desperate voice. "The gasoline motors take more time and money than I had available. The shareholders grew impatient with the little progress and dropped out one by one. If it wasn't for Bertha to encourage me every day, I'd have long given up on this." He indicated his construction with a dismissive hand. "I just wish I could offer her a better life than this."
"She loves you," Nicholas pointed out.
"Did she tell you that she invested her dowry in my invention? Now it's all gone and I have no clue how I can ever repay her."
Nicholas blinked in astonishment. Bertha believed so much in Carl that she had risked her own future on ideas.
They were interrupted as Bertha returned with a tray laden with cups and a tea pot. Nicholas accepted a cup of tea and pretended to sip.
"So, what do you think?" Bertha asked him, nodding towards the construction. "Instead of horses that require food and care on a daily basis, this vehicle consumes only the costs of fuel when it's in use. It will be much more affordable to the general public. I'm looking forward to the day when I can take it on a trip to visit my parents in Pforzheim."
"I'm impressed," Nicholas said, his eyes resting admiringly on the woman in front of him. His decision was made. He would send for a bank clerk on the following day to acquire an amount of shares that would ensure the future of this company.
"She was an extraordinary woman," Nick smiled as his thoughts returned to the present. "We're out of time, sun's coming up."
Lacroix gazed at the Eastern sky as if he was noticing the brightening horizon for the first time. "I don't think there will be enough time to return to the Raven."
"Great," Nick muttered and pulled the key from the ignition. "Engage the handbrake." He considered briefly spending the day in the trunk instead of following Lacroix upstairs into the loft, but his growling stomach dismissed the idea as soon as it appeared.
After stepping from the elevator, he moved immediately to the fridge. "I'm afraid cow is all I have to offer."
"That's not quite true," Lacroix breathed onto his neck as he stood close behind him.
Nick tensed and turned his head towards Lacroix, casting him a look of disbelief. Lacroix couldn't seriously be suggesting that Nick would serve his own blood instead of cow?
Before he could utter an objection, Lacroix reached past him into the fridge and retrieved a bottle. "I took the liberty of bringing a bottle of my own preference. I refrigerated it before you arrived this morning, Nicholas."
Nick noted the ornate label on the bottle and battled a confusing void as the realization hit him that he was not going to end up on Lacroix's menu this morning.
Meanwhile, Lacroix had retreated to the living room area. "Would you care to join me on this vintage?"
"No," Nick snapped. He pulled a bottle of cow's blood from the shelf and headed upstairs, closing the door of his bedroom with a sharp report.
Sitting down on the edge of his bed, Nick opened the bottle and drank deeply. He hated it when Lacroix brought him to the edge like this. It was easier to deal with him when he was behaving offensively. Then he could fight him without having to worry about re-emerging former desires.
However, when Lacroix gave him no cause to be angry, Nick felt irresistibly drawn towards him like a moth to the flame. The attraction had always been there from the beginning, although Nick was uncertain if it was a result from their blood connection or a reaction to the other's overwhelming charisma. The fact was that Lacroix was capable of bringing him to heights of passion that no one else could match. While this ability had been welcome in the past, Nick had refused to succumb to his desires for the same reason he denied himself the pleasures of human blood.
He placed the empty bottle on the nightstand and brushed the back of his hand across his mouth in distaste. The contents of this bottle had tasted extraordinary bleak in the light of far more exquisite flavours available in the room next door. Suppressing a groan, Nick lay back on the bed and closed his eyes.
* * *
When he woke after sunset, Nick felt rested and realized that he had slept better than he had expected considering the line his thoughts had taken the previous morning. He showered and dressed before checking on his house guest. By the time he emerged from his bedroom, Lacroix had left. Nick walked to the fridge and reached inside for a bottle. He hesitated as he noticed the bottles of human vintage lined up in the front row. Lacroix's intentions were anything but subtle when it came to Nick's feeding habits. Reaching around the front row, Nick pulled a bottle of cow's blood from the back and poured himself a glass.
* * *
As it was still early for his shift, Nick decided to swing by a bookstore. He acquired a "Beginner's Guide to Traffic Rules." Then he headed to the CERK studio and made his way to the sound booth.
"Nicholas, I hadn't expected to see you before 5:00 this morning," Lacroix greeted him. He hadn't started his radio show yet and was sorting through a stack of CDs to compile tonight's playlist.
Nick tossed the book at him, which Lacroix caught in midair. "I got you something. Make sure you know the rules by morning."
Lacroix regarded the title with a raised eyebrow. "Thank you, Nicholas. If you insist this is necessary."
"I do insist. And Lacroix," he waited until he had the other's undivided attention. "It's not working."
"What is not working, Nicholas?" Lacroix raised an eyebrow, innocently.
"You may stock my fridge with whatever you wish. I'm not changing my diet. See you at 5:00." Satisfied at having made his point, Nick left the studio and headed to work.
* * *
"Another date?" Schanke asked curiously as Nick prepared his departure at a quarter to five.
"It's not a date!"
"So why the hasty departure? There's still paperwork to finish."
"Finish up for me, Schanke --- please?" Nick entreated. "I have an appointment."
"An appointment for breakfast, I'm sure. Oh, the glorious times of a bachelor. I remember them well," Schanke sighed.
Casting another irritated look at his partner, Nick signed out and left the station.
* * *
He reached the loft before Lacroix. After parking the Caddy in the garage, Nick walked over to the Mercedes. A glance at his watch told him that he was two minutes early. He sat down on the passenger seat and reached for the leather textured gear stick, brushing his hand caressingly along the shaft as Lacroix had done the night before.
"Thinking of me, Nicholas?" Lacroix's velvet voice roused him from his pre-occupation. The elder vampire stood at the driver's side, his eyes following the motion of Nick's hand with unconcealed interest.
"In a manner of speaking," Nick replied, matter-of-factly. "I was just wondering if you remember everything from our last lesson or if we have to start over again."
"Don't be ridiculous, Nicholas," Lacroix scolded and took the driver's seat. "I have perfect recall."
"Then go ahead." Nick handed him the keys.
Lacroix put the key into the ignition, pressed the clutch, pulled into neutral and started the engine. Nick was impressed, but before he could utter a word of praise, Lacroix had released the clutch. The car groaned, but didn't move forward, even when Lacroix pressed the gas pedal repeatedly all the way down.
"Stop!" Nick yelled over the noise. "You're still in neutral. Which gear do we use to start the car?"
Lacroix frowned and pressed the clutch before pulling the gear stick into the position of first gear. When he released the clutch, the car shivered and died.
"What about the handbrake?" Nick hollered.
Lacroix exhaled loudly to express his displeasure at his son's continuous reprimands and started the engine anew, keeping the clutch down. Then he disengaged the handbrake and released the clutch. The car made a jump forward and died.
Nick closed his eyes briefly. He was slowly losing his patience.
"You have absolutely no sensitivity of movement!" he criticised.
"Really, Nicholas, you may want to reconsider that statement," Lacroix drawled.
"I'm talking about the car! You have to feel where the clutch plates disengage." Seeing that Lacroix regarded him with a rather blank expression, Nick exclaimed, "I've never thought you'd be such a slow student!"
"On the contrary, there seems to be a decisive flaw in your tutorship," Lacroix pointed out.
"Just because you're being impossible doesn't mean there's a flaw in my 'tutorship'!" Nick snapped back.
"It certainly isn't my fault when you're incapable of explaining the procedure in a comprehensible manner."
Nick realized that they weren't going to make any progress in this manner. On impulse he opened his cuff. "Then pay closer attention!" he demanded impatiently.
Lacroix suppressed a triumphant smile as he reached for the offered wrist and bit gently into the vein.
Nick closed his eyes as Lacroix's lips pulled at his essence in an incomparably erotic caress, causing incredible sensations to spread through his entire system. His vision turned scarlet as he felt the irresistible urge to bite in order to complete the cycle. Shifting his position, he turned in his seat and used his free hand to pull Lacroix's head to the side. With a low growl, he bit into the exposed neck. As soon as the rich essence of his master touched his tongue, Nick began to suck fiercely, greedily ingesting the heady elixir that was flavoured with overwhelming desire for him. Nick groaned as his own desire sparked in response.
Lacroix ceased his drinking for a moment and pulled Nicholas astride onto his lap. Leaning forward, he bit into Nicholas' neck and resumed his feast.
"Nicholas..." he whispered hoarsely as Nick initiated rhythmic movements on his lap in sync with the greedy pull of his lips at Lacroix's throat.
Nick lapped his tongue seductively along the column of Lacroix's neck. Then he gave him a wicked grin before pressing his blood-smeared lips boldly on Lacroix's mouth. Lacroix responded by sucking hungrily at Nick's tongue. His hands roamed over Nick's back, pulling him into a tight embrace. Locked together, he flew them into the loft, congratulating himself on his foresight to acquire a convertible that allowed for easy departure.
* * *
Nick woke to the sensation of a skilled hand drawing lazy circles on his shoulder blade. He lay on his stomach and Lacroix half on top of him, their legs still intertwined.
"I must admit, these mortal toys do have their uses," Lacroix purred in a voice dripping with satisfaction.
Nick turned on his back and regarded the ancient with a quizzical expression. "You spent 150,000 dollars on a car you don't need plus the transportation costs just to get… this?" He wasn't sure whether to feel annoyed at being tricked into this encounter or flattered that Lacroix would go to such lengths.
"The result was worth a thousand times that trifling sum, wouldn't you agree?"
Of course he agreed. That precisely was the problem. While he craved Lacroix's blood as well as the unrestrained sharing of their mutual passions, he was well aware that this conflicted severely with the changes he was striving to accomplish. That endeavour currently felt less desirable in the aftermath of such carnal pleasure.
"Nicholas?" Lacroix's voice roused him from his contemplation.
Nick smiled in contentment. "Do you still believe there's a 'flaw in my tutorship'?"
"Not at all, Nicholas." He accentuated the statement with a lingering kiss on Nick's lips.
Reaching into the spiky hair, Nick pulled Lacroix's head off his mouth. "Let's get you some practice before the acquired skill fades."
"I could always refresh the skill, don't you think?" Lacroix purred suggestively.
"Don't overstrain your luck, Lucien," Nick warned, and jumped from the bed to get dressed.
* * *
Lacroix started the engine, put the car in first gear, disengaged the handbrake and released the clutch. The car moved smoothly forward.
Nick released the breath he had been holding. "It worked," he grinned. "You've actually been paying attention."
Lacroix glowered at him and pulled into second gear. He steered the car towards Gateway Lane and merged into the evening traffic.
"Next time you make a turn, you may want to use the signal so that other drivers know what you're up to," Nick advised.
"They have eyes," Lacroix shrugged.
"They're mortal. They don't see as well as we do in the dark," Nick reminded him. "And you don't want a scratch on your precious car."
"Of course not. I appreciate your concern about my car."
"It's not your car I'm concerned about," Nick mumbled. He had barely restrained himself from killing Schanke after he had wrecked the Caddy on their first case as partners. He doubted Lacroix's reaction would be less violent if some hapless mortal had the misfortune to collide with his car.
Lacroix turned onto Eastern Avenue and continued on Front Street where he made a left turn onto Parliament. While heading along Queens Quay, Nick relaxed and enjoyed the drive along the lake until Lacroix turned onto Simcoe.
"Stop!" Nick shouted as Lacroix was about to cross the intersection of Wellington to continue north on Simcoe.
Lacroix hit the brake and brought the car to stop in the middle of the intersection, causing several other cars to honk behind him.
"You can't go straight. I thought you read the book I gave you!"
"I did. But this is the way to the Raven, is it not?"
"It doesn't matter if it's the way to the Raven. It's a one-way street. Turn left onto Wellington, then the next right onto John. At Adelaide you turn right again and then left onto Duncan."
"Hm," Lacroix muttered but turned the car as Nick had suggested.
"If you wanted the shortest way, you should have flown," Nick pointed out.
As Lacroix turned onto Adelaide, Nick cautioned, "Watch out for the streetcar. You always have to yield to the passengers getting on and off."
After parking the car in front of the Raven, Lacroix turned expectantly in his seat. "Well, Nicholas? Did I pass the test?"
"More or less," Nick relented. "It's fortunate that you aren't driving during daytime rush-hours."
Lacroix merely glared at him and got out of the car. "Are you going to come inside with me for a drink?"
"I need to get to work," Nick declined and took to the air.
* * *
When he returned home in the morning, Nick found an envelope from Larry Merlin in his mailbox. It contained Lacroix's driver's license and a hand-written note from Larry, instructing him to make sure there were no repercussions to be expected from sending the license to Nick instead of doing as Lacroix had requested. Nick stared a moment at the tiny card and brushed his thumb across the photo, a miniature publicity shot of the Nightcrawler. Smiling, he tucked it into his wallet and headed to the Raven.
He was pleased to find the Mercedes parked in the same spot where they had left it this evening. At least Lacroix hadn't taken any road trips on his own. Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a sticker, removed the backing and pasted the letter "L" on the back of the car.
The club was about to close for the day as he entered. Janette was nowhere in sight, but Lacroix sat alone at the bar, a half empty goblet and a bottle in front of him.
"I have something for you," Nick greeted him as he reached the bar. Retrieving the license from his wallet, he slid it over to Lacroix. "I'm not sure if it's a good idea to give it to you with so little practice, but Larry didn't want you angry with him. Make sure you don't lose it by breaking any traffic rules."
"Ah," Lacroix smiled and picked up the card to study it intently. "Speaking of traffic rules, I have something for you as well," he announced after a while and pulled a letter from his pocket. "I received this last night. I suppose you know how to handle it?"
Nick took the letter and swallowed. It was a photo of him, taken by a traffic camera on Gardiner Expressway. "Oh," he exhaled and brushed his hand through his hair as he read the details of the charge. He had been caught in Lacroix's Mercedes at a speed of 160 km/h in a zone where 90 km/h were allowed. Besides a fine of $250, his license had been suspended for four weeks.
"Really, Nicholas," Lacroix scolded with a bemused smirk. "Wasn't it you who preached the strict obedience of traffic rules?"
"They've suspended my license!" Nick exclaimed upset.
"So I've noticed. If you require transportation during this period, you know where to find me," Lacroix offered graciously.
The last Nick needed was to be chauffeured around by Lacroix during the next four weeks, or by Schanke during their shift. There had to be another way. Perhaps he could convince the Captain that he had been pursuing a suspect.
The flashback was inspired by the movie "Carl & Bertha" (Germany 2011). The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886. Benz officially unveiled his invention to the public on July 3, 1886, on the Ringstraße in Mannheim, Germany. In August 1888, Bertha Benz undertook the historic first long-distance drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim (106 km).
King Ludwig II of Bavaria drowned under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg on June 13, 1886. He was succeeded by his brother Otto, but since Otto was genuinely incapacitated by mental illness, the king's uncle Luitpold maintained the regency.
Forever Knight and its characters were created by Barney Cohen and James D. Parriott and are copyright to Sony/Tristar. None of the characters in this story belongs to me. I'm just borrowing them temporarily. No infringement intended. No profit is being made.
Special thanks go to amilyn for beta-reading and suggestions, to lafenris for the inspiring prompt, and to the moderators of the fkficfest (brightknightie and amilyn) for creating the opportunity to write this story.